US newbies ready to conquer Golf Challenge

2013-11-03 14:00

Foreign players will add exciting edge to tournament.

This year’s revamped Nedbank Golf Challenge will boast an exciting array of top-flight players.

Americans Gary Woodland and Kevin Streelman, who campaign in the US Professional Golfers’ Association (US PGA), will make their debut in the tournament that gets under way at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City from December 5 to 8.

The newbies have been picked alongside such “old-timers” as Englishman Justin Rose and Swede Henrik Stenson for the highly contested 30-member tournament.

Both US golfers will be making their fifth appearance at the venue.

However, their individual records do not suggest that they are here in South Africa for a holiday.

Woodland (29) comes from Kansas and is renowned for being a big hitter whose tee-shot drives earn him enormous respect among his opponents on tour.

A former basketball player of note, he established himself on the golf course in August by posting a victory in the Reno Tahoe Open.

That was his second notable win on the big stage after snatching the Transitions Championship in 2011.

He is the first American to confirm his place for participation in this year’s Sun City tournament.

Streelman, the second US player to say yes to this showdown, will also prove he is no slouch on the fairways.

He heads to the contest on the back of a sizzling season on the US circuit in which he claimed his maiden win on the tour in the Tampa Bay Classic.

This year, Streelman achieved his best finish in a major and tied 12th in the PGA Championship.

He will pose a threat to Rose and Stenson, who are seasoned Sun City campaigners.

The lanky Rose (33) is passionate about Mzansi. This is where the Englishman’s roots are because he was born in Johannesburg.

Rose will be looking to make Africa’s major his second big catch before the end of the year after bagging his first big one in the US Open at Merion, Pennsylvania, in June.

Stenson has had the best form of his career this year. He won two back-to-back titles – the Deutsche Bank and the Tour championships – in September.

There is no doubt that he will be here to make another big mark at the eye-catching Pilanesberg course.

But with such rookies as Woodland and Streelman in the hunt for glory, golf fans cannot rule out the possibility of an upset at the tournament.

Nedbank Golf Challenge: old vs new

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